Chapter

The Contrarian

James S. Humphreys

in Francis Butler Simkins

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032658
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039411 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813032658.003.0011
The Contrarian

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Throughout his life Simkins reveled in playing the role of the contrarian, an individual who expressed an opinion that flew in the face of prevailing thought. Although his views on race were provocative, the war question provided an even better example of his desire to challenge establishment views. Simkins had opposed the entry of United States forces into the First World War while a student at the University of South Carolina, and when a second European conflagration erupted in the 1930s, he showed that armed conflict still repelled him. The coming of war afforded him endless opportunities to argue with his friends in Farmville, and Simkins, as always, expressed his opinion boldly. The Japanese in 1941 were no different than the Confederates in 1861, he argued. Both had no choice but to attack their foes. Little wonder, then, that Simkins sometimes aroused hostility in the little Virginia town. At such a difficult time, when many parents in Farmville were sending their sons into the army, the odd history professor must have seemed like an overprivileged nuisance. For Simkins, though, he was fulfilling the only role he knew, that of gadfly.

Keywords: Francis Butler Simkins; southern historians; contrarian; war; armed conflict; Farmville

Chapter.  6854 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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